PED truancy letter sent to family grieving son’s death

Coronavirus New Mexico

HOBBS, N.M. (KRQE) – A mother from Hobbs has a scathing message for the state with a call to action to address students’ mental health during the pandemic. This comes after the death of her son.

Katrina Fuller was shocked when she got a letter from the Public Education Department Friday about her son being truant. She said her 11-year-old son Landon took his own life back in April and the message took her back to the worst day of her life. “I started crying, and screaming, I was so angry because if my son was alive, he would be in school,” said Fuller. 

She said Landon took his own life back in April and wrote a message in his school journal stating why.  “Staying at home all the time was driving him mad,” said Fuller. “That he just wanted to be able to go to school and play outside with his friends.”

Fuller said they withdrew Landon from Mills Elementary School in Hobbs the day after the tragedy and says there were no warning signs to his sudden death. But Fuller acknowledges that the current school system across the state has been tough on everyone. 

“There’s no learning happening,” said Fuller. “Kids are stressed out, parents are stressed out, teachers are stressed out, we’re going to have to do something, we’re going to have to try something different.” 

She said the state should be offering more mental health resources as well as youth suicide prevention and awareness programs during these trying times. Especially in the rural parts of the state. “A suicide hotline number or website will flash across the screen once a week, but I don’t know many adults who are going to call that, much less children and that’s not enough,” said Fuller.

Fuller said she did get a call from the state’s secretary of education today apologizing for sending the letter, the PED says moving forward they are going to compare the so-called Graduation Alliance Database to the homeschool and death certificate databases to prevent it from happening again. So while there is change on the way, Fuller said she just misses her son.  

 “I would just tell him how much I love him,” said “How much that I have missed him, and how so very proud I am of him because he’s saved so many lives.” 

A spokesperson with PED sent KRQE a statement via email: 

“We are aware of the letter sent to the family of Landon Fuller.  It should never have happened. Secretary Stewart has spoken with the Fuller family and offered his personal apology.  The Public Education Department will continue to scrutinize these lists and is committed to transparency around attendance recovery efforts.  We are working with all parties involved to ensure something like this never happens again.  Our hearts and prayers are with the Fullers in this painful moment.”

KRQE also reached out to the governor’s office for a comment but did not hear back.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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